So You’re Coming To Baltimore Comic-Con?

If you’re coming into my city for Baltimore Comic-Con, here’s some information that might help! Now, even though I live in the area, I don’t know all the hidden spots, or any really. I just wanted to pass along some simple and helpful stuff.

Where To Eat:

The Convention Center isn’t too far from the Inner Harbor where you’ll find options like The Cheesecake Factory, Uno Pizza, Noodles & Co., and more. You can find a complete list here. The Inner Harbor is also home to The Hard Rock Cafe, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Dick’s Last Resort. If you’re looking for an amazing breakfast or brunch, I highly recommend Miss Shirley’s. You’ll find plenty of bars and pubs in the area as well, some directly across from the convention center if you’re looking to grab a beer or two. There’s a Jimmy John’s as well which is located in the Hilton next to the convention center and across from Camden Yards. If you want something a little more fancy, there’s a Ruth Chris Steakhouse and Fogo de Chao.

What To Do:

If you’re in town for a few days, you should think about checking out the National Aquarium, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, and Poe’s gravesite. I love Edgar Allan Poe, which means I had to sneak that in there. In the past, Geppi’s had discounts for those who attended the convention. I’d keep an eye on their website for more info as the event gets closer. The Orioles are out of town that weekend too which means Camden Yard tours should be going on. Even if you don’t like baseball, the stadium is amazing. I’ve done a tour before and recommend it! We have some historic ships as well that you can tour. If you’re about the science, be sure to stop by the Maryland Science Center.

After Hours:

Fells Point and Canton are always good options if you’re looking for something to do at night. They both offer plenty of bar options! There’s Power Plant Live which features venues like Howl At The Moon, Luckie’s Tavern, and PBR Baltimore. I believe on the 5th they have some live music going on. As someone who doesn’t go Downtown too often to party, I’m probably not the best person to ask for suggestions but what I’ve listed here always works for me.

Odds & Ends:

If you find yourself in need of a drug store, there’s a CVS on Light Street. The Gallery at Harbor Place is a mall. They have a Starbucks and your typical mall shops. I think there’s a McDonald’s in there too. You’ll find shops around the two Harbor Place pavilions as well.

I know I’m probably missing out on a lot but this is a start. I didn’t want to put too much info since I’m sure most people are just coming in for the weekend but it’s nice to know what some options are. If you want to see what else Baltimore has going on, be sure to visit the Visit Baltimore website. I think they even offer some coupons and discounts. And who doesn’t love coupons and discounts?

Til Next Time San Diego

To be honest, I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to San Diego Comic-Con. I already plan on skipping next year and every year, it just gets more expensive. It gets harder to find a place to stay. It gets more insane. It just becomes really stressful, which it shouldn’t be! Plus the country is filled with great conventions that I would love to check out. I’m never able to though because of the time and money that San Diego demands. I’ve love to check out HeroesCon one year and maybe even Emerald City Comicon. I’ve heard nothing but great things about both those shows. Plus I still have the conventions I attend yearly like Baltimore and C2E2. I’d add NYCC but attending that really depends on my mood and who else is going. It’s a good show, but it’s gotten insanely crowded the past few years and the layout of the convention center isn’t the best. Plus I love to travel and would love to see other parts of the world. I can’t do that if I keep spending all my money on one place and on one event.

But enjoy some random photos from my trip! I do love San Diego and would love to visit for an actual vacation and see more of the city and beaches. If you’re looking for a place to visit, I recommend adding San Diego to your list!

Oh! And a friend informed me that I made it into this Marvel Method Cosplay video! I’m near the 1:20 mark I think.

I’ve slowly started uploading photos to Flickr as well! Is anyone else planning to maybe a skip year? Have you skipped before?

Renting A Condo For Comic-Con

The past two years I’ve used a condo instead of a hotel for San Diego Comic-Con. There are multiple reasons but one is I didn’t want to take a risk in the Hotel Lottery and two, it can sometimes be a little cheaper. I say “sometimes” because just like hotels, condo’s do get jacked up as well. It’s just the way it works. The thing is though, you can fit more people into a condo than a hotel in most cases. Sure, you can can cram five people (or more) into a hotel room but how comfortable is it? Of course the more people, the cheaper it becomes. Let’s start with the basics though:

How to find a condo:

I’ve used both VRBO and HomeAway to find a rental. You can search via location, dates, number of people, and other options as well. Both websites are very easy to use and I’ve never had issues using either one. I know people have used AirBNB but I’ve never used it and I’ve heard of people being cancelled on last minute when using it. In the end, which condo you pick or reach out to will depend on what you’re looking for in a rental.

Sample Of A Listing

Sample Of A Listing

Can it really be cheaper than a hotel?

In some cases, yes. In others, no. Again, just like a hotel it comes down to how many people are splitting the bill and what the rates are. My first year renting a condo was 2013. It was myself and Melinda which means we were fine using a studio. Some how we were able to find a rental for an entire week for just $819 total. Yes, for an entire week. The rental was in the Gaslamp area and even had a pool and hot tub. It was the perfect little spot. It could only fit two people though. If we had a third, it would’ve been tight. We rented again this year, but this time we needed space for four. This time around, as you can imagine, it was a bit more. The total for a week was around $3,100 which came to about $777 a person.

I asked via Twitter for some input on what they paid for hotels this year. The following are all for six nights.

Keating Hotel: $1800
Marriott Marquis & Marina: $1,968 (this includes an internet fee)
Hilton Bayfront: $2021 (add $210 if parking)
Horton Grand Plaza: $2289 (This is based off the Travel Planners list, not submitted from anyone)

With a condo (in most cases, 99% I’d say) you have a full kitchen plus washer/dryer. It might sound silly but being able to do laundry during a con is amazing. You can pack less and don’t have to worry about doing everything when you get home. The kitchen is a plus too since you can pick up items at a grocer in order to cook meals in and not waste money eating out every day. Plus our condo actually had 1.5 bathrooms which really came in handy when everyone was getting ready for the day or night. One night we had a few friends over, cooked a meal, and had room for everyone (I think 9 of us over the course of the night). Not to mention most will include free parking, wifi, and other amenities that a hotel would charge for. In my opinion, free parking can be huge. That can easily be over $150 if not more when staying at a hotel.

So really, it’s all about what you want and can afford. The nice thing is not having to take part in Hotel Hell and in some cases being able to book a year in advance. I’m pretty sure we had our place booked last August.

Friends Hanging Out This Year

Friends Hanging Out This Year

What about paying?

When you use one of the sites listed above, they send an automatic email when the payment is due. In most cases it’s three payments but we requested this year to have it broken down into four. That way we could each pay our own payment and not have to worry about moving money around to one person. When you finally pick a place and it’s a done deal, you do need to put a deposit down. Since each condo is owned by a different person and have different rates, this amount can vary. The nice thing was though, by the time we arrived in San Diego everything was paid for. We didn’t need to worry about anything when we checked out.

Final Thoughts:

  • If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Listen to your gut!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I know each time I rented, I asked what seemed like a million. Some of the questions you might want to ask include how many keys does the unit have? Do they have early/late check in/out?
  • Most, if not all, of the listings will have a calender and mention special rates for holidays/SDCC. If you don’t see them, be sure to ask. While you might see a rate of $179 when using the calendar, it might be $299 because of the convention. You don’t want to be surprised. In most cases the people renting out the unit know when San Diego Comic-Con is, but you should still be sure to mention it when contacting them.
  • When you’re looking for a job you send your resume out to tons of companies at once. You should treat your condo search the same. Don’t sit around and wait to hear back. You should send out a couple requests to see what sticks.
  • I do recommend starting your search ASAP. As it gets harder to get a hotel, more and more people are turning to condos. That means less options. Some might tell you they aren’t booking yet but will add you to a list, others might be more than happy to take your money now.
  • If you’re going with a large unit (some people rent out entire houses outside the downtown area) be sure everyone is on board! If you have to make up a contract, do it. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a place that now is out of your price range because someone dropped out.
  • Like any contract, be sure to read the fine print. I’ve seen listings that have amazing details and list everything you’d need to know. That doesn’t mean they all do. Be sure to ask about what the cancellation policy is. Comic-Con is a year away, and life happens. You don’t want to be stuck with a place you won’t be using at all.
  • Read the reviews! Also take note if the owner responds to any complaints and how they respond. Did they take care of the problem? Were they polite? Did you sense attitude?

I think that covers most of the questions you guys might have. If you have any others, please let me know! I’m not an expert but I’ll try my best to answer. If you’ve stayed in the condo, what did you think? Did it work for you? Rather have a hotel room?

As I was finishing this up someone asked about holding down the condo for the following year. All you can do is ask! If you have contact with the owner during your stay, maybe drop it a day or two before you leave. If they send you a follow up email asking how everything was, maybe ask then. I know people who have locked down their condo before so it can be done.

Comics: ASHES By Mario Candelaria & Karl Slominski

Superhero comics are great, but not everyone is into powers and capes. Some of us want something different. There are a lot of comics out there that fit that need like “Sex Criminals” and “Naibiter.” Another one that maybe you haven’t heard of is “ASHES.”

“ASHES” is the story about a NY fire fighter, a real hero if you will, that’s injured on the job. The story follows Matt on his road to recovery which includes family issues, physical rehab, and rejoining the force. It’s a very emotional ride and you quickly become attached to the main character and his struggles. Unlike Superman, we probably all know someone who’s dealt with similar issues. Hell, maybe it’s you. What really brings everything together is the art. “ASHES” was created in black and white and I can’t imagine it being in color. It adds to the emotion and feel of the book. And it’s a book. It’s just over 100 pages and features this amazing cover:

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Yes, it’s a self-contained book! You don’t need to run out and look for a bunch of single copies. The entire story is there in one collection. A piece of work that includes art like this:

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“ASHES” was created by Mario Candelaria (writer) & Karl Slominski (artist) and was funded via Kickstarter. I backed it last year when they were raising the funds and I’m beyond glad I did. First, I was able to help a friend achieve something great. Second, I got a truly inspiring story out of it. Well, we all got a great story out of it! What’s that? You didn’t back it? And you want a copy? Well, Mario has a few copies leftover and is more than happy to sell you a copy for just $10! Just reach out to him via Twitter and he’ll be more than happy to set you up.

So, if you’re looking for a comic that’s a little different, maybe even more grounded, then this might be the book for you. Do you already have a copy of “ASHES?” If so, what do you think?

Hanging With The Avengers In Hall H

This is what I came to San Diego Comic-Con for. It was the only panel that I had to see and get into. I ended up getting in line at a ridiculous time but it was worth it. While I didn’t end up front row, our seats were center and pretty perfect. We were in the 2nd row of the 2nd group which meant we didn’t have a ton of heads right in front of us. When you’re short like me, that’s important!

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I could bore you with the details of the panels that came before Marvel but I won’t. I actually ended up napping during one of them. But as it got closer to the Magic Hour the room started to come alive. I swear it felt like a sporting event. People were chanting “We Want Marvel” and stomping their feet and clapping. No lie, people started doing the wave. The. Wave. It was insane. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the room like that before. Then before we knew it the lights went down and the panel started. The first cast that joined us was for “Ant-Man.” I was interested to see how this went since it’s been nothing but drama for the movie but it went well. I didn’t hear any booing which is always good.

They actually had some footage for us to see that they had put together just for us. They hadn’t started filming yet but wanted us to get an idea and feel for the movie. I was pretty impressed with what I saw! Honestly though, I was just that for the Avengers. Just thinking about being in the same room as them, especially Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr, caused me to have mild freak outs throughout the day. I’m sure it was entertaining to Katy, Jamie, and Rachel. Granted, just seeing Chris Hemsworth caused Rachel to pretty much cry. Instead of trying to put words together to describe how amazing this whole thing was, here’s some footage from Marvel!

But this, this is what brought the house down and made me have emotions I wasn’t prepared for:

And if that wasn’t enough, we then got to see footage from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that just made everything worse. It’s like Marvel was trying to kill us with feels. I still don’t think I’ve recovered if I’m being honest.

Enough, rambling! Enjoy some photos!